President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo has persisted in defying a global directive by the World Health Organization (WHO), to curtail interactions particularly with the aged, as their weak immune system exposes them to a greater risk of contracting and succumbing to the deadly Coronavirus disease.
Rather than heed the good counsel of the world health body, the President, who is 76 years, has defiantly opted to haul to the seat of government persons and groups whose members have seen no less than six decades in their lives for briefings, most of which turn out praise-singing exercises on him.
This week for instance. The Jubilee House has been frequented mostly by leaders of influential groups in the country most of who are in their 70s. These visits are at the behest of the President himself, whose raison d’etre has been, as it were, to try to explain himself better after cheek in tongue talk. This time the subject has been about why he lifted the partial lockdown and what his government was now doing about the whole COVID-19 pandemic.
Elsewhere in the United States, Italy, Spain and England, the most fatalities due to the COVID-19 has occurred among the aged brackets (55+) hence the heightened warnings for people to stay away from their aged relatives. The worst hotspots have been caring homes for the aged.
Among the retinue to honour President Akufo-Addo’s invitation to the Jubilee House is the celebrated National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, who at the time of the visit was just 24 hours shy of his 101 birthday anniversary.
Earlier, the 25-member Council of State led by Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Paramount Chief of Juaben, himself in his 70s, was also at the Jubilee House to essentially commend the President, calling him Ghana’s Winston Churchill. New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwarts like the celebrated Lawyer Sam Okudzeto and former Accra Mayor Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, both of them members of the Council and in their 70s too, were at the Presidency.
Bo-Na Professor Yakubu S. Nantogma, Chief of Bogu and Kodwo Agyenim-Boateng, both 77 and members of the Council, were in tow.
Aside the Council of State and the Muslim Community, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Christian Council of Ghana, Togbe Afede XIV and his National House of Chiefs, have also met with the President on the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Media Commission, the Ghana Journalists Association, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana, as well as the leadership of State-Owned media organisations on the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Wednesday’s meeting with the Muslim community, President Akufo-Addo thanked members for their cooperation over the three-week period of lockdown and expressed the belief that they would continue to support his government on future decisions.
He also expressed a strong desire to bring life back to normalcy in Ghana, adding that the current situation cannot linger on forever.
“Ghana will not always be in this situation. That cannot be the case. We have to come out of this situation,” he said, adding “as we try and put in the measures to contain the virus, we cannot overlook what lies ahead of us.”
He indicated that he had called them to collate views on the way forward as he had met their Christian counterparts the previous day.
He also explained his decision to lift the partial lockdown imposed on Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, Tema and Kasoa, which decision appeared to have baffled many, including himself, saying he was left with a choice to protect the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian and that the ban on large gatherings remains in force.
“We have to also start planning for the future and looking at the things that we need to do so that we will be able to bring our lives back to normalcy”, he explained.
It has, however, become apparent that not much planning went into the decision, as events from the markets would soon bear out, with overflowing traders and shoppers haggling over each other, leaving various assemblies to now think how to deal with the situation.
And in a nation with scant regard for law enforcement and comportment, sending the security agencies back to their barracks and camps and engendering a back-to-square-one lifestyle is tantamount to issuing mass death warrants, with drivers already insisting on loading their vehicles as in normal times and passengers protesting to their deaths. Even with the security personnel around some people had to be forced into compliance, one need not stretch the imagination for what can be in their absence.
Speaking on behalf of the Chief Imam during the meeting with the President at the Jubilee House, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shuaib, the Chief Imam’s spokesperson said that “We have also observed how you have been reviewing the various measures in order to contain and also curtail the further spread of the disease, up to the very strict restrictions you have taken, including those you have already mentioned like closing of our borders, restricting meetings of religious gatherings. It was so difficult for you to take but you have done it.”
According to him, “We are happy, even including the final lifting of the lockdown in order to allow movement of people across. We are grateful to you”.
Placing on record their commendation for “the able leadership that you have exhibited, obvious for everyone to see, since this very disturbing phenomenon raised its head in our country”, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shuaib noted that “we have had no alternative but to accept and adhere to the directives you gave us, especially those that have to do with the restrictions on meetings.”
He noted that in complying with the President’s directives, the Chief Imam organized a press conference, with the support of other Muslim leaders, to inform and further direct what Muslims should do to effectively adhere to the directives given by the President.
“As you have already observed yourself, we are happy that Muslims all over the country also adhered to the directions that were given. Apart from the initial difficulties we had with a few of the Imams, who probably did not understand the import of the whole directives and encouragements, we can say with all confidence that all the Imams are adhering to the directives, and no mosque is administering the Jumah prayer,” Sheikh Aremeyaw Shuaib stated.
With Ramadan approaching, to be followed by Eid, the spokesperson to the Chief Imam noted that “Our religion is a flexible religion, it is moderate and it contextualizes issues. So, whatever the situation is, with the views that will come up from here, if we have to continue, we will follow you.”
He continued, “We have observed the empathy on your face anytime you come up to speak, I could read from your face the difficulty with which you speak to us and I am sure it is the same case for many of us who are here. We will never leave you. You are assured of our support.”
On their part, the Council of State also heaped praises on the President over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis with the Chairman, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, saying the regular updates by way of nationwide broadcasts “really brought encouragement to the country”.
The meeting at the Jubilee House on Tuesday, April 21, was a day after the lockdown imposed on some major cities in Ghana was lifted.